Beeson Funeral Home, Inc. and owner James E. Beeson, Jr., have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that they failed to provide consumers with price lists for caskets and other funeral goods and services they offer, in violation of the FTC's Funeral Rule. In addition, the FTC alleged that Beeson conditioned the furnishing of certain funeral goods and services upon the purchase of other funeral goods and services, also a violation of the rule. Under the proposed settlement of the charges, Beeson has agreed to pay a civil penalty in the amount of $20,000, and to comply with the Funeral Rule in the future.
The FTC's Funeral Rule was promulgated in 1984 and revised in 1994. The rule requires funeral homes to give consumers who visit a funeral home a copy of a general price list that they can keep and use to comparison shop. This list discloses that consumers do not have to purchase a casket if the deceased is to be cremated without a viewing, as well as other important information about legal rights and required purchases. The FTC's rule also makes clear that consumers do not have to buy a funeral package. And it requires funeral homes to give consumers itemized lists of the goods and services they've selected, so that they can be sure to pay only for the items they've chosen or that state law requires.
The complaint detailing the charges alleges that Beeson violated the FTC’s Funeral Rule by failing to give consumers the required general price list; the required casket and outer burial container price lists; and an itemized written statement of selected items. In addition, the Commission charged that the defendants conditioned the sale of certain funeral goods or services upon the purchase of others.
Under the proposed settlement to these charges, Beeson has agreed to a pay a civil penalty of $20,000 and would be prohibited from violating the FTC’s Funeral Rule in the future.
The Commission vote to authorize filing of the complaint and proposed settlement cases was 5-0. The case was filed on May 29, by the Department of Justice at the FTC's request in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, in Wilmington.
NOTE: This consent decree is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a law violation. Consent decrees have the force of law when signed by the judge.
The FTC has a free brochure titled "Funerals: A Consumer Guide," which describes the Funeral Rule and answers common questions about planning a funeral. Copies of the complaint, proposed consent decree, and the consumer brochure are available from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest FTC news as it is announced, call the FTC's NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710. FTC news releases and other materials also are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web Site at: http://www.ftc.gov
(Civil Action No. 96-275)
(FTC File No. 942 3225)